Chapter II

The holidays really mess up my schedule and I am always uncomfortable with it. I find solace in structure. I love calendars, agendas, itineraries and the like. I find comfort in knowing what is coming and when it is coming but with the holidays I have a difficult time with myself. The unknown makes me extremely anxious. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but Dr. Worth and I are working on rooting out the source of this issue. Knowing how distraught I become around this time of year, my parents gave me the lecture about “behaving” as they had company arriving for the holiday some of which are family, some are friends and others are my father’s co-workers. It was the third year that they hosted the holiday dinner party and my Mother was determined that “nothing would ruin it” for her.

Daniel arrived home late that afternoon. His flight landed in Providence at 5:10 that evening. My parents sent a livery service to pick him up so that they were home when the first of the guests arrived. Talk about last minute. I know Dan organized his trip purposefully in that way: the less time he had to spend at home – the better. He hated it there and only came home when badgered to. I didn’t blame him. If I were him, I would have felt the same way. I’m the one who ruined home for him. He never confronted me about it, but I was acutely aware it was because of me. I wish I could have changed things and rewrote the past. But I never could.

Our parents were completely oblivious to Dan’s uncomfortability with home. They were prone to believe whatever he told them which was that his studies were challenging and he had great responsibilities at school that he could not shrug off. They were so proud of his success at St. John’s that they didn’t question him. But I knew the truth. I was what made Dan uncomfortable. He was so distant with me. I knew there would be some uncomfortability between us, but I imagined that we’d talk it out and work though it so that by the end of his visit we’d begin repairing our relationship with the hope that some day we would once again find closeness. It appeared that I was the only one thinking and planning this out. Dan wouldn’t even acknowledge me and the one moment when I managed to get him to look at me, I only saw distain in his eyes. With his dismissive stare I watched any chance I had to reestablish our relationship fall away. In a house filled with so many people I’ve never felt so alone.

I didn’t always make Dan feel this way and I desperately missed the relationship we once had. I missed my brother. We were really close when we were younger. I always looked up to him even if he was only a year and a half older than I, but when the rumors and stories started, when I began getting in trouble at school and started with what Dr. Worth has labeled “the unusual behaviors” my relationship with Dan deteriorated.

Starting school was always a big adjustment for me though one might think that school is so structured I would find security there. I didn’t. I’m certain that the extensive fire in the school building followed by the relocation of the classes to various buildings, as well as, the numerous substitutes our class had after our teacher quit, were major hindrances to my adjustment away from home. I had a lot of nightmares when I started school. I began sleeping with a chair wedged beneath the door handle of my closet, my bedroom door open, and a light on in my room. My parents tried to be supportive, but I knew they were frustrated with me, especially the times when I ventured to their bedroom several times during the night complaining about the whispers. Dad would follow me back to my room and inspect it, but he never found anything. He’d tuck me back into bed and sleepily return to Mother.

My brother would inevitably be awoken by my nighttime travels back and forth from my room to my parents’. He would eventually come stay with me when it was clear that Dad’s words carried an unspoken threat of punishment if I didn’t go to sleep. The two of us, snuggled beneath the safety of the covers and the quilt Grandma made for Mother years ago, would stare into the semi darkness of my room. Dan would occasionally click on the flashlight he clenched tightly in his hands when I would squeeze his arm. Being six years old, he understood and empathized with my child fears. He would inquire as to what the whispers were saying, but it wasn’t until years later that I would hear them clear enough to comprehend their meaning.